Saturday, August 27, 2016

Raiatea and Tahaa

After spending a few days in Avea Bay in Huahine, we made the short hop over to Raiatea on August 18th.  We entered the southern most pass and found a deep bay to anchor in.  Luckily, there were mooring buoys and we were able to pick one up, and spend the night there.  In many of the bays around the Society Islands, we have found free mooring buoys, because some of the anchorages are just too deep for a boat to use its own anchor.

Raiatea is home to the site of Marae Taputapuatea, one of the most important religious and historical sites in Polynesia.  Marae are open air temples (and, incidentally, this is what Dave and I stumbled upon in Huahine, when we went on the dinghy ride.  I had mentioned it in my previous post, but at the time, was not completely aware of what we were looking at!).  The marae and open air temples at Taputapuatea on Raiatea were a very short dinghy ride away from our anchorage, so we went there the next morning to explore.  The entire site is a candidate for inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it was extremely interesting to learn about the ancient Polynesian culture, and of course, a great school field trip!

Marae at Taputaputea.  The trees you see are sacred trees, as the birds that sat in the trees were considered messengers to the god 'Oro (to whom the marae were dedicated), and they used the bark and wood of the trees to carve their tiki idols

Some of the slabs were over 3 meters (almost 10 feet) tall!

Another view of the marae

Stone Tiki at the marae

View from the Marae site - I couldn't was just so beautiful!

Gaby found this piece of coral here that looks like a cross.  Quite ironic given the pagan nature of the place! 

After our excursion to the Marae site, we upped anchor and headed to the next bay.  We had heard there was a nice river to explore, so we moved our home and relocated to Baaie Faaroa and picked up another mooring buoy to go and explore the Aoppomau River. As we were getting into the dinghy, we were met by "James", who was on a kayak, and offered to show us the river as his home was up there. We were a little skeptical at first, wondering how much this guided tour was going to cost us, but he never answered that question!  We couldn't really decline, so off we went, James on his kayak, and us following in the dinghy.  Well, what an educational day it turned out to be!  First the ancient temples, and then a lesson on flora and fauna of Polynesia! (primarily Flora...we didn't see too many animals, other than James' dog, whom the kids loved!).  Gaby completed a paper for school entitled "Plants I Learned About Today" after our trip up the river!  She included drawings of the plants, a description, and what the plant was used for (eg: medicinal, decoration etc).

 James never asked for a cent for his time, he was just happy to share his knowledge and show us the river!  This friendliness is what we've come to experience from the locals pretty much wherever we go.  We of course gave him a tip, and bought a big bunch of bananas from him for $5!

The entrance to the river

Up the river

James showed us to a vanilla we are with the vanilla pods!

Row, row, row your boat (dinghy) gently down the stream...

The following day we headed over to Tahaa, the next island which shares a reef and lagoon with Raiatea.  We explored a couple of bays and then went to anchor on the reef in 5ft of beautiful, turquoise water.  We were pleasantly surprised to find our friends on Invictus and Excalibur already anchored there!  Invictus and Excalibur are the 2 boats we met in Huahine, and whose kids Ben and Gaby had played with while there (swinging off the side into the water).  Also anchored there was a boat we'd met in Rangiroa (in the Tuamotus), a Lagoon 500 with a Belgian family aboard!  It certainly is a small cruising community after all.  

Invictus ended up hosting a party with all the boats in the anchorage - we left the kids on Cool Runnings and had a great time with 6 other couples on Invictus!  Let me just add that Invictus is carrying about 300 litres of really good red wine, so you can imagine the most excellent party that was had!!!

The next day, Ben and Gaby completed a project that required them to design and build a sailing vessel.  They constructed the "SS Butter" (pronounced "Butar" according to Ben.  The reason for this name is that they used an empty tub of butter as the hull!).  The "SS Butter" was subjected to some sea trials in a pond created in the bean bag by all the rain we had overnight and then we attached a fishing line to it and let it sail off the back of Cool Runnings.  Dave has already posted the video of both of these events.  A great project and "SS Butter" is still alive and well!

Teamwork was required in the construction of the "SS Butter".  No adult help was allowed in the design and construction

The completed "SS Butter" complete with port and starboard lights.  Well done, Ben and Gaby!

Our anchorage in Tahaa.  Site of the launch of the "SS Butter"

She floats!  The "SS Butter" is dwarfed by "Wind Star", the 4 masted cruise ship that we saw in Tahit, Moorea, and now again in Tahaa!
Gabs and mom share a special moment :)  The next day we sailed to the north of the island to a place called "Coral Gardens".  We anchored the boat and then took the dinghy over to a coral reef.  We walked to the top of the motu, and then drifted down with the current over the coral.  Great snorkeling and we saw lots of beautiful fish!  

Our anchorage at the Coral Gardens in Tahaa looking over at Bora Bora

Benjamin enjoying sunset in Tahaa 

One more of the sunset in Tahaa:  next stop:  Bora Bora

Another great day and another beautiful anchorage.  Next stop, Bora Bora!

1 comment:

  1. Not many school field trips to Tahiti, but its sounds and looks like an exciting one for sure! The map helps to put all the islands you mentioned into perspective the pics.